Why Does It Cost So Much For My Dog, Cat or Pet to Fly?

The simple answer is airlines charge cargo rates for pets and other animals. There are no discounts. Period.

No matter how much we pet lovers want to believe our pets are people, the travel and transportation industry classifies them as cargo. Not the most flattering way to think of our beloved dogs, cats and other animals, but there you are. Animals are cargo.

We humans have the luxury of shopping around for cheap flights. We can choose from among dozens of airlines. We can save money by buying tickets months in advance. We can get cheap seats by flying at off-peak times and days. If we don’t mind taking 10 or 12 hours or more to get to our destinations, we can find cheap fares by taking milk runs with several stops and plane changes. We can fly stand-by if we want to hang around the airport for hours, even days, waiting for a flight with space available seating.

None of these options are available for our pets.

Although several airlines, domestic and international, accept pets as carry-on or excess baggage, you must travel with them. There are many limitations, most significantly available space (on board the aircraft as well as in the cargo hold) and strict size restrictions for carry-on pets. Since not all passenger aircraft are configured to handle over-sized cargo, the size restriction may also apply to large and giant breed dogs that travel in extremely large crates. Finally, keep in mind that the airlines must adhere to the International Animal Transport Association’s Live Animal Regulations (IATA/LAR) and they will require you to do the same. Taking your pet on the plane with you seems to be an attractive, affordable option. However, be aware that you run the very real risk of your pet missing the flight, if there is no space available on board or in cargo, or if you have not complied with the IATA/LAR.

Cargo Rates – How do airlines determine the cost of my pet’s travel?

No matter what time of year. No matter how far in advance. Cargo rates are cargo rates. Cargo rates vary somewhat from airline to airline and the specific methods of calculating may differ somewhat, but the bottom line is: what an airline charges to transport your dog, cat, parrot, snake or any other animal is determined by how much it weighs (including its crate).

Airlines typically charge by dimensional weight (length x width x height). The cost is determined essentially by the size of the crate. The bigger you’re pet, the bigger its travel crate, the more it costs for your pet to travel. As an example let’s use a Cairn Terrier traveling in a 27x20x19 inch crate (the correct size for this breed). The cost would be based on the dimensional weight of the crate, which is just over 68 lbs. (or 31 kg.). If your pet is a Chihuahua or a kitten, it’s less. If your pet is a Labrador Retriever or St. Bernard, it’s more. This is why it’s so very important to measure for your pet accurately. It has to have a properly sized crate.

It might seem tempting to put a pet in a smaller crate to save money, remember that all airlines and pet travel agencies must comply with the IATA/LAR. If the crate is too small, your pet will not be allowed on the flight. To make its flight, it will require a correctly sized crate and the cost recalculated. This can mean a considerable, last-minute, cost increase—and very likely a missed flight.

Although cargo rates aren’t the only costs to consider, they tend to be the heftiest. You still have to consider travel crates, health certificates, microchips, customs fees, ground transportation and a host of other things required by the IATA/LAR.

Let the experts at Animailers help you make sure your pet gets on its flight without a hitch. Get an Estimate and let us do the work for you.